Omicron on the rise

Spread out of control, restrictions remain unimplemented

Although the PTI government can claim credit for having a relatively low death count and total national case load in comparison to most regional and First-World countries, the results are not attributable to its implementation of covid-19 restrictions as that has been largely insufficient and ineffective. That Pakistan on Friday reported highest ever daily active Covid cases since the start of the pandemic not only substantiates the Omicron variant’s increased virulence and contagiousness but also that the NCOC’s delay in placing restrictions has perhaps been too long.
While allowed attendances at schools, wedding, cinemas and sporting events and other large gathering have been halved, much of the effectiveness of this policy depends on the wearing of masks and maintaining social distance by the 50 percent who are in attendance. This may be possible in places where entry is regulated and can therefore be denied on the basis of one wearing a mask or not being able to produce proof of vaccination but it gets trickier when installations with no restriction to entry and exit is involved i.e. pretty much anyplace other than the ones mentioned above. Mosques are of particular concern, but because of the sensitivity attached to the matter owing to serious backlash from the clergy whenever stricter restrictions are placed, the government treads carefully, issuing notifications of actions that are mostly not implementable. The NCOC has made it mandatory for individuals entering mosques to produce proof of full vaccination. Left up to the mosque’s administrations, it is highly unlikely that the directive is followed, which is most likely what is going to happen.
One suggestion to get ahead of the spread, an afterthought at this point, is to start randomized testing in schools. What the NCOC aims to achieve with this is unclear as the virus is clearly spreading at a much faster rate than expected but another problem with testing is the fact that nearly 80 percent of the testing kits currently available in the country are substandard, providing accurate results in only 50percent of cases. It is as much the duty of the federal and provincial governments as it is the general population to dispense their civic duty by being mindful of how their carelessness may endanger the community they live in. Getting vaccinated, wearing masks and avoiding close contact is the sensible and responsible way forward. One hopes this is sufficiently done voluntarily before the government is forced to resort to punitive measures. Whether or not it can with an election year upon us is another matter altogether.

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The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected]


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